Thursday, 21 October 2021

Woman fights neighbour’s garage conversion plan

Woman fights neighbour’s garage conversion plan

A WOMAN has criticised a neighbour’s plans to convert their garage into living accommodation.

Laureen Williamson, who has lived in Bell Street Mews, Henley, for 25 years, says that by replacing the garage door with a bay window it would reduce the space needed to manoeuvre vehicles, which is already restricted.

The entrance to the mews off Bell Street is very narrow before opening up into a small courtyard which the residents use to turn their cars round.

Mrs Williamson, who has a disabled drivers’ badge, told a meeting of Henley Town Council’s planning committee that the bay window would make it hard to manoeuvre her car as it would “stick out”.

She said: “There are two garages here and one door is proposed to be taken out and made into a bay window. The bay window is not wanted, it’s not required.”

Mrs Williamson, who is a former town councillor, showed the committee pictures of the “alleyway” that she and her neighbours use to access their homes. She said: “The five households own that piece of land equally as freeholders. It is very narrow indeed.

“I have to reverse because that’s the only way I can get in and I have a disabled drivers’ badge and a very small car. The other cars have better access than I do so they can manoeuvre better than I can.”

Mrs Williamson, who is secretary of the Bell Street Management Company, which maintains the development, said the other residents also opposed the plans.

She said: “They don’t want this bay window for the simple reason that if a transit van comes in delivering repair work or decorating materials they are going to be absolutely flummoxed by the bay window.”

She said the development was granted planning permission in 1997 because the design allowed the residents to get in and out safely. She said that the late mayor Tony Lane had told her he was opposed to the scheme because he didn’t believe the arrangements for vehicles was satisfactory.

Mrs Williamson said: “He told me that this was constructed specifically to protect the right of people to get in and out of the mews safely.

“Well, we in the mews don’t believe now that this will happen because of the intrusive nature of this bay window.

“It says there should be room on the site for eight cars. This planning application removes one of those spaces straight away because the closure of the garage for use as accommodation reduces the number to seven, contravening what was agreed in 1997.”

Mrs Williamson described the applicant as an “absentee owner” with no experience of living in the mews.

She added: “It [the bay window] will be an obstacle and a dangerous one because it is going to stick out — not a lot but enough to make people swerve away and perhaps have a collision with another vehicle.”

Councillor Ken Arlett said: “I know the area really well. I would imagine if someone has got a garage door there they can either park in front of it or use it whenever they wish to. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how a bay window is going to affect that property at all.”

Councillor Laurence Plant proposed recommending that the application is rejected.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak asked Mrs Williamson if she would support the application if the bay window was replaced with a flat one.

She replied: “I would be minded to accept it.”

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “If the applicant came back with a flat window it would be okay but it is a protruding window into the car parking space. We should reject this and hope that the applicant listens.”

The Henley Society has also recommended refusal but Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has not objected.

The committee agreed to recommend refusal. South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, is due to make a decision by October 20.

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